Taverns often crowded with travelers. Top-notch schools. Fertile farmland. That was King & Queen County in colonial times. Fueled by people going between Williamsburg and Philadelphia, towns such as Newtown and Centreville flourished.
Fast forward to today and you see a county that time has forgotten. As the main roads shifted farther to the west, the travelers stopped coming and the population shrunk. It is one of the few counties in the U.S. that actually actually had a larger population in the 1700s (about 9,300 people) than it does today (just less than 7,000).
In the dozen or so Virginia travel books I have accumulated, there is no mention of King & Queen, located about 30 miles northeast of Richmond. While it does have farms, a lumber industry, hunting and valuable natural resources, the whole county has just one stop light. On a Saturday afternoon ride through the northern part of the county, I encountered just one open store.
Just finding a good place to run proved difficult. No doubt, I will face similar challenges in the southwest area of the state. The major natural resource in King & Queen is Dragon Run Swamp. The largely undisturbed and protected 90,000-acre area in parts of four counties is considered one of the most important ecological sites in the state. But the idea of running through a swamp, even if there was a place to do it, didn’t sound like such a great idea on the last weekend of January.
I was hoping to run in Newtown since it was such a happening place in colonial times. But the town consisted of just a few houses along route 721, a narrow road just busy enough to make running on it a hazard. So I continued on to Stevensville. There, I found a small side road that I felt safe enough to run on. Some cars did pass during the run, but most gave me lots of room.
King and Queen County was first settled in 1691. It is named after King William III and Queen Mary of England. The county is about 65 miles north-to-south, but less than 10 miles east-to-west.
37 runs down, 97 to go.
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